Idhu Tiruchirappalli Vanoli Nilayam... 80 yrs & counting

Idhu Tiruchirappalli Vanoli Nilayam…the announcement wafting the airwaves ahead of a range of programmes, including news bulletins, is cherished by a large number of listeners in the Delta and adjoining districts. Established on May 16, 1939, AIR, Tiruchirapalli, was the second broadcasting fac

Published: 13th February 2018 03:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th February 2018 04:16 AM   |  A+A-

A radio jockey at the Rainbow FM unit of Tiruchirappalli radio station | M K Ashok kumar

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: Idhu Tiruchirappalli Vanoli Nilayam…the announcement wafting the airwaves ahead of a range of programmes, including news bulletins, is cherished by a large number of listeners in the Delta and adjoining districts. Established on May 16, 1939, AIR, Tiruchirapalli, was the second broadcasting facility in the State and has plenty of history on offer. In fact, there was a time when AIR-Tiruchirappalli held sway over almost 75 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population.

When the whole of India was following the historic moon landing on 21 July, 1969, listening to Voice of America, AIR Tiruchirappalli translated features of the event in Tamil. Vijaya Thiruvengadam, the then transmission executive sought permission from the revered broadcaster M S Gopalan to translate the English commentary and informed the announcer, KDM Sitharaman. “I penned the Tamil script and gave it to Sitharaman to read out. I still remember the first line ‘Nila Ulagil Irunthu Nilaa Ulagirkku Sellum Manithan’. We also translated and broadcast Neil Armstrong’s famous words, ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’, in Tamil,” he recalled.

This is not the only episode that qualifies the Tiruchirappalli Vanoli Nilayam as an iconic institution. Inaugurating the station, in 1939, the then Premier of Madras Presidency, C Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, addressed people saying they were listening to him through empty space without any wired connection. Lionel Fielden, the then controller of broadcasting, also was there to say a few words on the occasion.

Ever since, AIR Tiruchirapalli has been on air, endearing itself to people and developed a deep bond with them. Till Independence, Tiruchirappalli was just one of the six radio stations in India and served as the lone window to the world for many. The airwaves even reached Sri Lankan Tamils in those years, leave alone the fact it covered the State all the way to Kanniyakumari.

Thanjavur being the treasure trove of both Carnatic and Tamil folk music, AIR Tiruchirapalli offered a platform for several stalwarts to showcase their talent - many musicians introduced by the Tiruchirappalli AIR station earned fame in later years. Some musicians who enthralled music lovers through the Tiruchirappalli airwaves for decades included Thiruvavaduthurai T N Rajarathinam Pillai, Namagiripettai Krishnan, Dhandapani Dhesikar, T K Rangachari, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, and Tiruchy Swaminatha Iyer. As Rajaji aspired, the Vanoli Nilayam popularised music and musicians among the masses in Tamil Nadu.
Also, Tiruchy Vanoli promoted artistes like Kollangudi Karuppayi and Pushpavanam Kuppusamy. Farmers would wind up work early to listen to the songs, dramas and other programmes. It used to be a common sight at tea stalls and panchayat offices for farmers to gather and listen to the radio.

Treasure trove

The library in Tiruchy Vanoli is a real treasure with rare collections of speeches of great leaders, their interviews, photographs of film stars and singers and programmes

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